Military Review

Arctic Shelf Delimitation: International Legal and Political Aspects

Taking into account the depletion in the foreseeable future of deposits of traditional energy resources currently being developed, the issue of creating not only alternative energy sources, but also the development of so-called production technologies, is becoming more and more relevant. hard-to-reach oil. This includes primarily shale oil, as well as oil located on the Arctic shelf (submarine margin of the continent). And although at current prices for crude oil production of this type on an industrial scale is unprofitable, the Prirazlomnaya oil platform (owned by Rosneft), which serves as a testing ground for the development and testing of new hydrocarbon production technologies under extreme conditions, already exists in the Pechora Sea. The next logical step in this direction should be the delimitation of the borders of the Arctic shelf of the so-called. Arctic states (Russia, USA, Canada, and also the kingdoms of Norway and Denmark), which should be fixed in the relevant multilateral international treaty of the UN level. This is due to the actual absence of formal agreements on the division of responsibility between the above-mentioned powers in the Arctic. Without this, in turn, it is impossible:

- first, to begin the full-scale development of Arctic resources (making up, according to the US Geological Survey, about 90 billion barrels of oil);

- secondly, (which is no less important), to close this space for non-regional competitors (represented primarily by China, Japan and South Korea).

It should be noted that the issues of the legal ownership of areas of the Arctic shelf are currently governed by international law. It is primarily about the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 of the Year (The United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea). According to this document, states have the right to claim a shelf within their exclusive economic zones (i.e., 200 nautical miles, or 370,4 kilometers). However, along with this, it is envisaged that the state may also qualify for that part of the submarine shelf that is outside its exclusive economic zone. But only if it is possible to prove that the shelf beyond its borders is a direct (underwater) continuation of the continent on whose territory the land borders of the state are located (ie the shelf is not part of the ocean floor or another continent). So, on the UN official website (the page describing the functions of the three bodies established by the Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 of the year) is fixed: “According to the Convention, the coastal state sets the outer limits of its continental shelf where it goes beyond the 200 mile zone based on the recommendations of the Commission ”[on the limits of the continental shelf. - I.V.].

The international organizations involved in the Arctic are currently:

- The Arctic Council is a forum of eight Arctic countries (Russia, USA, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland), which aims to discuss issues related to the environmental agenda of the Arctic (as well as issues of its scientific study and economic mastering). Among the observer countries of this organization, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan, Singapore and India should be singled out;

- The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, whose task is to exercise the rights of the Arctic powers to delimit those parts of the Arctic shelf that extend beyond their 200-mile exclusive economic zones.

Without touching on other (purely political) issues related to the control of the North Pole spaces between the Arctic powers, it should be noted that Russia and the Kingdom of Denmark claim the same part of the Arctic shelf - the Lomonosov Ridge. Which, from the point of view of the kingdom, is the underwater part of Greenland, and not the direct (underwater) continuation of Siberia.

It should be noted that the first application of Russia, addressed to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, was sent back in 2001. Its essence was to include the Lomonosov Ridge in the Russian continental shelf and recognize it as such at the international level from all other Arctic powers. However, this application was rejected under the pretext that Russia does not have sufficient (from the point of view of the Commission’s experts) amount of evidence to substantiate its territorial claims. The reaction to this was the conduct of a whole range of research activities in the Arctic Ocean (known as the Russian Arctic Expedition "Arctic-2007"). In particular, the apotheosis of this expedition was the achievement of domestic bathyscaps (for the first time in stories humanity) of the North Pole and the establishment of the flag of Russia on it. The reaction of foreign partners to this “demarche” turned out to be extremely nervous in the spirit of condemning Russia's “expansionist” claims to possession of the Arctic spaces. The main practical result of this expedition was the creation of a whole scientific theory regarding the geological origin of the Lomonosov Ridge, as well as its direct relationship to the lithospheric plates underlying the base of modern Siberia.

The research results of this expedition formed the basis of a new Russian application to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which was provided by the delegation headed by Minister of Natural Resources S.Е. Donskoy December 2 2016. At the same time, it should be noted that a few months earlier (in August of the same year) Denmark submitted a similar application for expanding the borders of its own (Greenland) continental shelf. Thus, at present, both applications are pending. This process, in turn, may take several years: in the case of Russia, at least five years, in the case of Denmark (applying to the Commission for the first time), no earlier than 2023 of the year (according to Danish special services). At the same time, it is necessary to note the absence of any contradictions between Russia and the United States, as well as Norway concerning the delimitation of the shelf (primarily because of the existence of bilateral treaties on the delimitation of borders). In turn, according to the newest Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation (approved by 30 in November 2016), all efforts should be made to remove, moreover, prevent conflicts from arising along the perimeter of their borders - including in the Arctic. The priority is to strengthen cooperation with other Arctic powers, stemming from the consciousness of the possibility of extracting mutual benefits in the course of working together in the Arctic Ocean (including in the field of energy, as well as in the area of ​​environmental, environmental protection cooperation). In turn, the last option for getting out of possible crisis situations is to apply to an international court of justice. Moreover, the norms of international law are recognized as the only legitimate tool for resolving disputes between states.

It can be concluded that the resolution of all claims in relation to the issue of the delimitation of the Arctic shelf is carried out in accordance with the standards provided for by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, in particular, the procedures prescribed by the UN Commission on the delimitation of the continental shelf. The recommendations of the Commission, in accordance with the powers transferred to it under the Convention, are of key importance in resolving any disputes in the Arctic. However, at this stage, it seems to be too early to judge about the possibility of concluding some kind of agreement common for the entire five Arctic powers (an indirect sign of which - on the contrary - is the spreading in the media of interested countries the topic of increasing military presence in the Arctic by competing states). As for the Arctic Council, it can act as a kind of “stabilizer” of tensions between countries - primarily on the basis of joint environmental initiatives. At the same time, it should be noted that the very fact that there are countries in the Arctic Council that have no relation to the Arctic from a geographically geographical point of view can be seen as a desire, a hidden intention of these countries to take advantage of the lack of unity between the Arctic powers to promote their own interests and agendas. day in the region. If all the Arctic powers had reached some kind of general (shared by all the parties) agreement on the “redistribution of the Arctic”, dividing it into conditional “spheres of influence”, this would certainly contribute to the strengthening of their own positions in the region due to the actual expulsion the limits of all outsiders. It is a different matter that at present there are enough contradictions between the leaders of the development of the Arctic spaces themselves.

We can conclude that until the dispute between Russia and Denmark over the Lomonosov Ridge is resolved in one way or another, the prerequisites for concluding this kind of “general Arctic” treaty will not actually appear. In this sense, even increased pressure from outside can hardly turn the tide - at least if the current oil prices are maintained. At the same time, issues of cooperation between the Arctic countries remain relevant. Moreover, we can say that in this field, Russia occupies a leading position: both in terms of the number and power of fleet, and in terms of advanced technologies for oil production from under the ice thickness of the Arctic.
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  1. Chertt
    Chertt 10 July 2018 07: 18
    The next logical step in this direction should be the delimitation of the boundaries of the Arctic shelf of the so-called. arctic powers

    Demilitarization of the Arctic shelf essentially means the withdrawal of Russian Arctic units. (only Russian, other countries simply do not have such units), with their inevitable disbandment, as well as the folding of the Arctic military bases. It may be enough to unilaterally "demilitarize"
    1. The Sparkle
      The Sparkle 10 July 2018 08: 09
      You confuse the terms - delimitation and demilitarization. The first word makes sense - clarification of the borders of the state, and the second - the disarmament of the country.)))
      1. For example
        For example 10 July 2018 10: 52
        Why do not they write in Russian? Why are you smart?
        So people get confused. Whether it is necessary to disarm, then urgently to arm. wink
        Without the army and navy you can’t keep the border.
    2. andrewkor
      andrewkor 10 July 2018 08: 23
      I read the headline (not carefully) and thought about the same, but read the article and relieved!
    3. Megatron
      Megatron 10 July 2018 10: 25
      Well, yes, the bear has already given Norway territory.
      1. gramatey
        gramatey 10 July 2018 12: 09
        Slightly correct - not the territory, but the water area. But in fact, of course I agree with you - the delimitation of the sea spaces with Norway is disadvantageous to Russia.
        1. dzvero
          dzvero 10 July 2018 20: 11
          Delimitation with Norway (read the removal of controversial issues) allowed Russia to claim rights to the shelf, including the Lomonosov Ridge. Yes, and oil and gas in the given section of the bottom was not smile
   10 July 2018 22: 49
            We could be able to show our rights, although it’s easier for us to resolve this issue.
            The site is large there, so we must say, "they did not find oil and gas in the given area of ​​POCA." It's only the beginning.
  2. Akuzenka
    Akuzenka 10 July 2018 10: 08
    What the Anglo-Saxons order the Danes, they will do so. They will order the world to disperse, to disperse. But this is unlikely.
    1. 10 July 2018 22: 51
      Quote: AKuzenka
      What the Anglo-Saxons order the Danes, they will do so.

      It is unlikely. There are such prospects that the Danes themselves will try to cut off this pie.
      1. Igor V
        Igor V 11 July 2018 18: 02
        They have nothing to cut.
 11 July 2018 23: 12
          It’s not necessary to think that we alone are able to use a knife and a fork.
          1. Igor V
            Igor V 12 July 2018 19: 47
            Cut ice with a knife and fork - dreary. smile
     13 July 2018 22: 53
              The Danes have a pair of icebreakers. Even up to a dozen can charter with their neighbors in the Baltic. There are more of them in the Baltic, but the Swedes and the Finns and themselves also need it.
  3. Hypatius
    Hypatius 10 July 2018 12: 36
    The legitimate rights of Greenlands and Inuit need to be supported in liberation from Danish colonial dependence.
  4. Kuroneko
    Kuroneko 10 July 2018 16: 47
    It should be noted that the issues of legal affiliation of the Arctic shelf are currently regulated by international law.

    What a funny phrase "norms of international law"... especially in the neighborhood with "currently".